ABC Tropical North interviewed Jane McAdam on the overlooked situation of “climate migrants,” the international legal blind spot of the millions that have been displaced by climate change or natural disasters.
Jane McAdam: This kind of movement’s actually happening all around the world at the moment, but the thing is that because we don’t have any legal or bureaucratic categories of things like so-called “climate change refugees” or “climate change migrants,” we don’t really see it being accounted for in any official government policies.
But what we do know is that many millions of people are displaced every year now by things like natural disasters, and of course the role of climate change there is that climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of both kinds of events. But I guess the key thing to note is that the vast majority of this displacement is happening within the borders of countries, so we’re not getting large numbers of people crossing over international borders. But of course this is something that is on our radar as something that might happen in the future, particularly in our own neighborhood of the Pacific, where we have small island states whose very existence is, perhaps, at risk over the coming decades.
Although what they want, of course, is the opportunity to remain in their homes for as long as they can, and as a fallback position they’d like to know that there are migration options, so that if they want to be able to move at some point in time they have the capacity to do so.
Listen to the full audio from the interview